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Study Finds Energy Limits Global Economic Growth

February 12, 2011 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Joe Bish for this article.
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A study that relates global energy use to economic growth, published in the January issue of BioScience, finds strong correlations between these two measures both among countries and within countries over time. The research leads the study’s authors to infer that energy use limits economic activity directly. They conclude that an “enormous” increase in energy supply will be required to meet the demands of projected world population growth and lift the developing world out of poverty without jeopardizing standards of living in most developed countries.

The study, which used a macroecological approach, was based on data from the International Energy Agency and the World Resources Institute. It was conducted by a team of ecologists led by James H. Brown of the University of New Mexico. The team found the same sort of relationship between energy consumption per person and gross domestic product per person as is found between metabolism and body weight in animals. Brown’s group suggests the similarity is real: Cities and countries, like animals, have metabolisms that must burn fuel to sustain themselves and grow. This analogy, together with the data and theory, persuades the BioScience authors that the linkage between energy use and economic activity is causal, although other factors must also be in play to explain the variability in the data.

For full article, visit:
http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/110107_study_finds_energy_limits_global_economic_growth.html


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